Science Committee chair reveals where the UK went wrong on coronavirus testing

28 April 2020, 15:37

By Adrian Sherling

The chair of parliament's Science & Technology Select Committee told LBC that the UK's testing facilities became overwhelmed, because not enough labs were opened up.

Greg Clark is the Tory MP who chairs the committee which heard from a range of scientists - including those that are advising the government on the response to coronavirus, like Sir Patrick Vallance.

And speaking to Shelagh Fogarty, he revealed where the UK went wrong in our testing strategy.

He said: "The evidence that we've taken has established that we had the availability of testing at the scale that it would have been ideal to have.

"Indeed, Sir Patrick Vallance, who gave evidence to the committee, said it would have been great to get ahead of this more than we've been able to.

Shelagh Fogarty heard where the UK went wrong on coronavirus testing
Shelagh Fogarty heard where the UK went wrong on coronavirus testing. Picture: LBC / PA

"What are the reasons for that? It seems that there was a decision made to concentrate on a small number of Public Health England labs and they quickly became overwhelmed by the demand.

"All this talk of ramping up... another way of describing that is to say that over time you've increased.

"Whereas what we know other countries did successfully - South Korea being a good example - from the outset they sprung into action with lots of testing facilities in multiple labs, 79 in the case of Korea right across the country."

Mr Clark said that things had changed the the last couple of weeks since the Health Secretary made the infamous pledge of 100,000 tests per day.

He added: "You've had some central labs, but you've also had labs in universities all being deployed.

"That is happening now and I think looking back, it's a shame that the button was not pressed on that from the outset."

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